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News » Saints offer restricted free agents deals

Saints offer restricted free agents deals

Saints offer restricted free agents deals
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Saints began work on their free-agent class this week, offering contract tenders to restricted free agents Jahri Evans, Lance Moore and Leigh Torrence and agreeing to terms with free-agent tight end Dan Campbell.

The restricted free agents still can test the market like any other free agent. But if they sign an offer sheet with another team, the Saints have the option to match that offer. And in the case of Evans and Moore, the Saints would receive draft picks as compensation if they let them go.

The Saints offered the highest possible tender to Evans, their starting left guard -- a one-year, $2.792 million deal -- which means another team would owe the Saints first- and third-round draft picks if they sign him.

The Saints offered Moore a one-year, $1.545 million tender, so they would receive a second-round pick as compensation if the starting receiver signs with another team and the Saints don't match.

The Saints made the lowest possible tender to Torrence -- one-year, $1.01 million -- which does not include draft-pick compensation since the backup cornerback entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2005.

They also said they plan to make an offer to restricted free agent offensive tackle Zach Strief, likely with second-round compensation.

Each of the offers is a calculated gamble. The Saints don't want to let the players get away, but they also don't want to overpay.

They probably would have been safe if they offered Evans the second-highest tender ($2.198 million, which includes only a first-round pick as compensation). But they were willing to pay a little extra to avoid the risk, and they also want to let Evans know they want him to stay in the organization since they'll probably be having long-term extension talks as the year goes on.

The Saints also could have upped Moore's offer to the first-round level, but they're probably safe. Although Moore could be a coveted free agent, he only has one year as a proven receiver, so teams might be hesitant to sign him to a big-money deal and sacrifice the second-round pick.

So far, the Saints have not agreed to contract extensions with their unrestricted free agents, though they will certainly make efforts to re-sign middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, right offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb, receiver Devery Henderson, linebacker/special teams coverage guy Troy Evans and backup quarterback Joey Harrington, among others.

The free agency period begins next Friday.

The Saints signed Campbell, a 10-year veteran, since he was released by the Detroit Lions earlier this month.

Campbell's career has been derailed by shoulder and hamstring injuries the past two years, limiting him to three games. But the 32-year-old has been a solid blocker and pass catcher, and Saints Coach Sean Payton loved working with him in Dallas from 2003 to 2005.

Terms of the deal were not available, but it likely was a minor investment for the Saints, who already have veteran tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Billy Miller in the fold.

Campbell likely will replace injury-plagued veteran Mark Campbell, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent.

. . . . . . .

Mike Triplett can be reached at mtriplett@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3405.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: February 21, 2009

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